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Top tips and advice on rebranding

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3rd Oct 2013
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Rebranding may be a scary process to embark on, as with all major changes to your firm. But if done right, can win you clients, open your reach from local to national and bring you new services to market.

At least, that’s what it did for Ireland-based firm ProfitPal, whose managing director Denis Breen spoke at Xerocon London recently.

Breen described his firm as static, facing challenges such as a narrow, local client base, no differentiation, stiff competition from bigger firms and the Irish economy.

“A property bust meant the firm was losing clients hand over fist. We became, as accountants, a commodity, so we began to ask ourselves: what’s holding us back?” Breen explained.

Other challenges to business included a direct, unpredictable referrals system, undervalued compliance services and nothing to market but their price.

In 2006, the firm decided it was time for a change in software as well as branding, and looked at an accounting package new to the Irish market: Xero.

The firm implemented the software system and tried it out one client at a time. It found that the package enabled the firm to offer services it couldn’t before in real-time, such as a CFO/CTO offering, it brought a marketing leverage and advantage over its competitors who didn’t have the same system.

The firm went from being able to offer services to local firms, to having a national, more vertical reach and therefore scope for different kinds, as well as geographically spread out, clients.

“We then felt it was time to rebrand as a result of the change that Xero brought to our firm. The word brand has a bad brand: it’s not just a logo or a name, it’s a change in service too,” Breen said.

Denis Breen & Co: Tax and financial advisers became ProfitPal accountants and advisers, based on continual conversations the firm has with clients regarding profit.

An elephant was chosen as their new logo “for a bit of fun” as well as the strength and loyalty meaning the animal symbol has.

The firm went through three phases of re-branding, which appeared to follow the implementation and uptake of clients of Xero.

Firstly, Skype became their client support helpdesk, and Breen even travelled around with webcams in the boot of his car, installing them on client computers if he didn’t have them.

The firm also engaged in marketing and focusing on changing “need” clients to “want” clients.

Need clients include those who will only approach an accountant when they need to use them, such as around self assessment season. But want clients are those who are motivated to use an accountant for other services to grow their business and be proactive about their financial situation.

The firm got its first ever website through a web developer client and began to focus on real-time financials, action oriented dashboards, future goals focus along with unlimited support all wrapped around a value pricing structure.

One of the services it focussed on was providing a CFO service to clients, which, Breen explained is an important element of value pricing.

“Providing a virtual CFO service gets you in touch with the CEO, who can then see the value of the work you’re doing. You’re then able to value price accordingly,” he said.

The firm proceeded to build a sales process, develop its website and launch an improved marketing and PR campaign.

Tips and advice on rebranding

  • Brand identity - Create a brand identity that’s future-proof and unique to you - everything from tagline to name to colour scheme. ProfitPal were able to call themselves “a new kind of accountant” in Ireland as Xero hadn’t taken off there yet, and Breen added that you may still even get away with calling yourself this in the UK. A good brand adds good marketing leverage
  • Sales process - Do not leave anything to chance, write down and map out a strategy. Get a CRM system, identify your ideal clients and then go after them, Breen advised
  • Widen your horizons ­- Going from local to national, even international with cloud can be a daunting process. Who do you target? Where do you go? Go where you know. Breen advised looking at your current clients and picking your best ones out as a starting point for a profile. Cloud package software add-ons are essential for this, such as the ones in Xero, he added, as they will allow you to tailor and scale your offering for their needs. “Go after everyone relevant within a 200 - 300 mile radius,” he advised
  • Change your pricing - As new services bring more value to what you do, build transparency within your pricing and make sure your plans are simple and range-based
  • Let your clients speak for you - Build lasting relationships. Photograph your clients in their business environment and put them on your website and include testimonials - let them be your ‘TripAdvisor’ and your champions
  • Team spirit - Build an amazing team, Breen advised, and establish a motivational, positive working ‘culture’. Expand externally as well as internally and bring in outside talent if you need the skills your team doesn’t already possess, such as marketing, graphic design or photography
  • Be personal - Use branded material and have ‘touch points’ for when clients come to visit your office. Never let your client leave without taking something away with them that’s got your brand on

“We have learned a lot from the whole re-brand process,” Breen said. “I’d advise not spending loads of time on a tagline, writing everything down from your business plan to sales process, win over clients one at a time, nail your service offering and bring your message together in clients’ minds.”

In addition, Breen’s firm runs webinars and workshops, and has even expanded to include its own partner programme.

Would you consider rebranding or have you done so? What tips and advice would you share?

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By roar
04th Oct 2013 09:15

Rebranding

 Roar Accounting Ltd rebranded two and a half years ago following, to a large degree, what has been said in the article.  Instead of a dull, boring accountants image we changed to a modern bright image which, we felt, expressed more who we are and what we represent.  Some of the suggestions we are still implementing but it has been the best decision that we have made to date.

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